Yale Athletics

With two individual first-place titles and a team overall second-place finish, the Yale men’s golf team continued its hot start to the spring season at the Yale Spring Invitational on Saturday. Defeating three Ivy League opponents at the Course, the Bulldogs established themselves as the favorite heading into this weekend’s Ivy League championships.

The Elis placed second in a 16-team field on Saturday with a 16-over-par 576, finishing 11 shots behind tournament-champion Tennessee but 15 shots clear of Penn, their closest Ivy League opponent. Besides serving as a statement performance by Yale’s top five golfers — all of whom will compete at the conference championships — Saturday’s match also showcased the Elis’ depth. Yale’s B team finished sixth, beating the A teams from 10 other schools including Brown.

“Every week is different, and every golfer has a game where on any given day someone can play well or bad, and we need to expect each other to play the best they can each time and go from there,” captain Will Bernstein ’18 said. “We have the talent, we put in the work, and hopefully it will be enough next weekend.”

Ivy League teams Cornell, Penn and Brown fell to the Bulldogs at the Yale Invitational, as all three had done the week before at the Princeton Invitational. Although Yale lost to a Tennessee team that competes in the SEC, which currently boasts eight of the nation’s top-25 golf programs, the Elis defeated ACC foe Virginia, which received three votes in the most recent national poll.

Yale was tied with the Volunteers after the first of two rounds on Saturday. As the temperature dipped, and the wind picked up during the afternoon round, however, the Bulldogs could not keep pace with a Tennessee squad that carded a 2-over-par 282 in the unforgiving weather conditions. In the afternoon wind, no team came within 11 strokes of the Volunteers, with Yale posting the second-best score of 11-over-par.

“I think the team is satisfied with the result, as Tennessee are a good team and were worthy winners,” Eoin Leonard ’19 said. “As a team we know we could have performed better and really challenged Tennessee for the title.”

Leonard and James Nicholas ’19 shared the individual tournament title with Tennessee’s Lorenzo Scalise, with all three going 2-under-par for the tournament. Nicholas posted the low round of the day — a 4-under-par 66 in the morning — but a second-round 72 allowed Leonard and Scalise to catch up in the afternoon.

The shared victory was the first Yale Spring Invitational individual titles for Leonard and Nicholas, although Leonard had placed fifth as a first year and Nicholas third as a sophomore.

Competing alongside Leonard and Nicholas on Yale’s A team, reigning Yale Spring Invitational champion Bernstein tied for 19th overall after posting rounds of 2-over and 6-over.

Sean Yi ’21 and Henry Cassriel ’18 rounded out the A team with final scores of 153 and 155, respectively. Yi tied for 46th while Cassriel tied for 54th overall.

Head coach Colin Sheehan ’97 received an almost equally impressive performance from his B team, with three of his rookies placing in the field’s top 25 and outscoring members of the A team. Paul Stankey ’21 and Teddy Zinsner ’21 tied for seventh in the tournament. Meanwhile Perry Xin ’21 followed up a 75 with a second-round 74 to secure a tie for 25th place in the 99-player field.

Yale has won the Invitational title twice in the past 14 years, with the most recent victory occurring in 2017. The Bulldogs shot a 569 last year and bested their nearest competitor by 20 strokes, although last year’s field did not contain high-caliber teams like those of Tennessee and Virginia.

With back-to-back wins at the Princeton and Yale invitationals, the Elis redirect their attention to the fast-approaching and critical Ivy Championship.

“We are just trying to keep the momentum going from the last couple weeks,” Cassriel said. “Our preparation has gone well this spring, and we hope we can have it all come together next weekend.”

The winner of the conference championship receives a regional bid to the NCAA Division I men’s golf championship. A win at the Ivy Championships would be Yale’s 10th title since 1975.

The Ivy League Championships will kick off on Friday, April 20.

Lauren Cueto | lauren.cueto@yale.edu